By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

CommonWealth criticizes Henry over Telegram sale

CommonWealth magazine editor Bruce Mohl has a very tough piece about Boston Globe owner John Henry in the new issue titled “The man who lied to Worcester.” Mohl, a former Globe staff member, criticizes Henry for going back on his promise either to sell the Telegram & Gazette of Worcester to local buyers or to keep the paper himself.

Mohl quotes the T&G’s coverage of a meeting that Henry held with the staff last fall at which Henry said, “This is not a forced sale. If we don’t find the right owner, you’re stuck with me.”

I’ve written about Henry’s broken promise on several occasions, including last April for But Henry has never explained what happened, and he did not respond to Mohl’s request for comment. Now the T&G is owned by Halifax Media Group, a Florida-based chain.

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  1. Mike Benedict

    There’s a lot not to like about Mohl’s so-called reporting. The tone is distateful, the accusations often shallow, and in some cases he is outright wrong. If, as Mohl writes, Henry’s package of the T&G was way too much to pay for what amounted to only a brand and some hardware, then why the heck didn’t one of the locals simply launch their own paper? A lot of sour grapes were crushed in the writing of this story.

  2. Aaron Read

    Because the point was to get the printing presses. It’s exceedingly expensive to construct your own printing facility these days…so much so that it’s almost impossible to raise enough capital to do that; you’d have a damn hard time earning enough revenue back to justify it.

    The residents could launch their own online-only paper but without the existing readership and brand identity, it’s a tough row to hoe to get them to read it enough to pay the bills. And even then, many online-only papers only earn enough to support a tiny fraction of the news staff that print outlets do. Dan has researched (and written) about this pretty extensively. (see “The Wired City”)

    I don’t think it’s sour grapes that Henry promised one thing and basically lied. And had the gall to try and sell the paper at a price that was only justified if the presses were included, and they weren’t. Why Halifax paid what they did utterly mystifies me; Henry totally took them to the cleaners for what he gave them in the sale.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Aaron: I think the people of Worcester deserve a fuller explanation from Henry than they have received. The problem with saying he “lied,” though, is that it presumes that we know he didn’t mean what he was saying. There’s no evidence of that. It’s more likely that he got caught up in the moment and assumed he’d have no problem delivering on his promise.

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